Ivan Emilio Montenegro Perini

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Davis, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10434

Approve Date

October 11, 2022

Project Title

Montenegro Perini, Ivan (California, Davis, U. of) "Mining Corporations and Geoengineering Practices: Terraforming Landscapes Destroyed by Coal Extraction"

Through ethnographic fieldwork in Northern Colombia, this project explores how Cerrejón —one of the largest coal mining companies worldwide— re-makes the same landscapes it destroys through its “land rehabilitation” program. In Colombia, the 2020 collapse of coal prices publicly prompted the question about the future of mining territories if they were to be abandoned. Cerrejón’s land rehabilitation program acquired political attention as an example of the potential future of those affected places. “Land rehabilitation” is undertaken by a complex network of corporate actors, scientists, technicians, local populations, and nonhuman entities. I will look at the practices —collaborative and divergent— that emerge from this network as they try to repair blasted landscapes in the face of a likely mine closure. What forms of life and nonlife are encouraged or hindered by “corporate rehabilitation?” How do expert engineers negotiate between the materiality of what they are “rehabilitating” and what local populations demand? A hypothetical response is that even if rehabilitation efforts successfully recompose the geomorphology of land, this may not suffice to repair the damage of destruction. Analyzing the limits of “corporate rehabilitation,” this project critically engages with the alleged environmental solutions that arise from modernist proposals based on human exceptionalism.